Reading Politics in 1562: Arthur Brooke’s Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet Reconsidered

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Abstract

The English Romeo and Juliet tradition is seldom read in a political light. This essay reconsiders the political status of the story’s first English adaptation by Arthur Brooke (which Shakespeare would later borrow heavily from) by reading it against a large dataset of 1562 printed texts. I contend that we should read this poem politically because that is what its readers, including Shakespeare, would almost certainly have done. Arguing against dominant scholarly assumptions of the poem and author’s anti-Catholic bias, I explain how The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet resists religious persecution, instead emphasising tolerance and inclusivity across religious and political divides.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-25
JournalCahiers Elisabethains
Volume101
Issue number1
Early online date24 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

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